Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants To Bring Mom Home To Stay Safe

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother lives in a retirement home, and I am so worried about her. There have been reports all over the country about the virus infiltrating old folks’ homes and killing lots of people. I feel like I should bring my mother home with me, but I’m worried that she might not stay healthy. My husband goes to work outside of the home every day. He practices social distancing to the extent that he can, but he’s a contractor, and he works with people. My mother is in her 90s and in fragile health. That’s why I want her out of the retirement building, but I’m not sure that my house is safer. How can I figure that out? -- Mom’s Safety

DEAR MOM’S SAFETY: This is one of the most frequently asked questions today. For anyone who has a parent or loved one living in a nursing home, the worry is that they might contract COVID-19, even after all of the precautions have been put in place. As you know, the level of quarantine in those spaces is high. Nobody can visit for the foreseeable future to avoid exposure. And yet there are stories of nursing homes having deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.

Talk to your mother’s doctor. Lay out your concerns and detail how your household runs. Chances are slim that the doctor will want you to move your mother there, given the way that your husband interacts with people outside the home. But trust the doctor. For AARP recommendations on how to support your mother, go to

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is extremely pushy. Whenever we talk, it feels like it is on her terms and only when it is convenient for her. And she always seems to find something to criticize me about. Just some little thing that she finds annoying enough to want to get off her chest. As my son says, she is judgmental. I’m sick of it. I feel like I can never relax when I talk to her; I never know when she is going to say something that will hurt my feelings. I don’t think she realizes how harsh her comments can be. Even when I stand up for myself, I find that she deflects and throws more punches. How can I get her to be more sensitive to my feelings? She is my friend, and I love her. But I’ve had enough of her meanness. -- Below the Belt

DEAR BELOW THE BELT: It is time for you to stand up for yourself with this friend. Do not allow her pushiness to silence you. As her friend, you deserve to be treated with greater care. But you have to tell her. You should not assume that she is aware of how her barbs land. Chances are, she thinks the way she communicates is just the way she is, without considering that her “way” may be abrasive and hurtful to others.

Be prepared to tell her that her words hurt and to give her specific examples so that she cannot wriggle out of the conversation. Stop her when she deflects. Tell her -- and punctuate your point with anecdotes -- that she hurts your feelings regularly. Ask her to be more sensitive to you. Remind her each time she says something inappropriate. If she refuses to be more mindful, begin to distance yourself from her.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)